Custom face mask are a symbol of the pandemic era – a visual metaphor to the tiny, unseen viral foe that is lurking around any corner. Some opt for a scarf wrapped around their face, others get by using a t-shirt yanked up over their mouth. The more creative hook colourful homemade varieties around their ears, while a lucky few wear distinctive surgical masks or, rarer still, N95 respirators.
As the coronavirus pandemic spreads, and lockdown measures are now being lifted, some governments have advised citizens to make their own face coverings.
On Jan 30, 2020, Rothe and colleagues described SARS-CoV-2 in several individuals infected by the person stated to be asymptomatic who had travelled from China. This report was questioned as the index case had taken acetaminophen for jetlag, which could have masked COVID-19 symptoms. Hence, the scientific community became and remained doubtful about transmission by presymptomatic and asymptomatic individuals for a long time. It has since become evident that folks are infectious for at least 48 h before symptom onset (presymptomatic), that some people just have minor symptoms (paucisymptomatic), while others remain entirely asymptomatic. These individuals can transmit the virus without knowing they may be infectious—the main argument for usage of facemasks as a source control. In addition, there continues to be disagreement concerning the probability of transmission through aerosolised SARS-CoV-2. These perceived conflicts, in turn, continue to fuel the conflicting advice about the potential role and type of facemasks in the COVID-19 pandemic for health-care workers and also the public.
One US study investigated which household materials best removed particles of 0.3-1.0 microns in diameter, the conventional sized airborne viruses and bacteria, and figured that good options include vacuum bags, heavyweight “quilter’s cotton” or multiple layers of cloth. Scarves and bandana material were less capable, but nonetheless captured a part of particles.
Wearing a mask but nonetheless touching the face with unwashed, virus-contaminated hands also can cause infection. People often find masks uncomfortable and touch these to make adjustments.